Overview of the climb

From Timpohon gate to Laban Rata
The entire journey of climbing Mount Kinabalu is a long uphill walk. There is only an approximately 50 metres stretch of trail near the summit that you need to use your hands to hold a rope.

Yes, I mean walking and not rock climbing. Technically it is an "easy" climb and that you don't need to perform rock climbing. Just WALK.

We can divide the journey into 3 stretches:
  • Climb from Kinabalu Park Headquarters to Laban Rata Resthouse. This is either a 6km hike (walking upward) if you start from Timpohon Gate or an 8km hike if you start from Mesilau Gate.
  • Climb from Laban Rata to summit, 2.75km, and descent back to Laban Rata, 2.75km.
  • Descent from Laban to Kinabalu Park HQ, 6km to Timpohon Gate.

Most people do this (or we did this):

Day 1 

  • 3pm: Reach Kinabalu Park Headquarters.
  • 6pm: Buffet dinner at Balsam Cafeteria and stay one night at Grace hostel.


Day 2 
Stretch 1: From Kinabalu Park Headquarters (1,866 metres/ 6,122 ft) To Laban Rata (3,270 metres/ 10,730 ft)
  • 7am: Buffet breakfast at Balsam Cafeteria. Collect your packed lunch.
  • 8am: Start climbing up to Laban Rata (6km)
  • Afternoon: Most people reach LR between 1pm to 5pm
  • 6pm: Buffet dinner and sleep till next morning 1.30am


Day 3
Stretch 2: To summit (4,095 metres/ 13,435 ft) and back from summit
  • 1.30am: Wake up
  • 2.00am: Buffett supper
  • 2.30am: Start the climb to summit (2.75km)
  • By 5am: Sayat-Sayat checkpoint gate closes at 5am. Climbers must cross this checkpoint by 5am.
  • By 7.30am: Reach Summit (many people reach summit before 5.30am for sunrise)

Stretch 3: From Laban Rata back to Kinabalu Park Headquarters
  • By 9.30am: Back to Laban Rata (2.75km), take buffet breakfast and get ready to descend to Kinabalu Park (6km)
  • By 6.30am: Reach Kinabalu Park, have buffet dinner and leave for airport/ Kota Kinabalu, etc.

Day 3 night
Some choose to stay one more night at Kinabalu Park Headquarters. In my second climb, we stayed one more night at a beautiful lodge, Nepenthes Lodge, at Kinabalu Park Headquarters.


For Day 3, it is a 5.5km + 6km hike. It could take up to 14 hours of walking.

After 4.5KM from Timpohon Gate towards Laban Rata

Beautiful flora and scenery at Pondok Villosa, in the mid point between 4.5KM and 5.0KM.

Read "How to climb Mount Kinabalu?"